THURSDAY APRIL 06 2006
Well, I’m overwhelmed. Thank you. I was not fishing for attaboys; I get enough of those, and probably more that I don’t recognize because I put my head in a black cloud for a day or two. (The attaboys come in different forms and styles, I think.) But that made my day. As for the Joe book – well, there are other publishers, and if everyone says no, then perhaps that’s the way it was supposed to be. This has more to do with my current publishers, I guess; I thought we had a special thing going. I mean, I gave them my class ring and all, and we said we’d be true forever.
If love between a writer and his publishing house isn’t forever, well, what is?
(pause for those in the industry to throw their heads back and laugh until the tears stop)
Wonderful day. It was 61 degrees; spring is finally here, serene and triumphant. (Snow showers predicted for the weekend.) We went outside to play baseball, and the minute I picked up the ball I remembered what I always forget over the winter: Mr. Pain in the Buttocks Dog. He demands to play as well, and wants to play his game at the same time. So I throw the ball to Gnat then kick the hedgehog into the corner of the yard. If I had kicked poorly, and the hedgehog does not have sufficient velocity to emulate terrified prey, Jasper stops and barks at it. Then he barks at me. If he deigns to retrieve it, he will stop halfway to me and bark in annoyance. The idea of simply running after something and bringing it back is not in his personality, and games of fetch always end up the same: neither of us is particularly happy with the other. But Gnat hit the ball well. We had lemonade. It almost felt like summer.
So naturally we went somewhere air conditioned: the Play Place. Hadn’t been there in a while.
“This feels like the olden days when we were together all the time,” she said on the way.
“It does,” I said.
“Those were great days,” she said, smiling, looking out the window. Five and a half, and she has her daddy’s pointless sense of nostalgia.
We did the usual things, clambering high in the structure, going down the slides, taking to the big wood-floored gym to scoot around in wheeled chairs and toss kickballs at one another. A little boy who’d come with his grandmother joined in, and seemed starved for the attention of an older male; as soon as I admitted him into the ball-tossing circle, he started hurling the thing as hard as he could – earning admonitions from Grandma, alas. She treated him with good intentions, but throttled back his every broad motion with a cluck-cluck or a no-no. Another boy, attending with a nanny, joined the game, and he too amped it up, much to the nanny’s despair. I told them it was okay: I didn’t mind. I didn’t want to contradict their instructions on their terms, just to tell them they needn’t worry about my reaction. Throw the ball as hard as you can, lads; I can take it. Perhaps I was in error, and I was reading it wrong, but there was this great hungry glee in the kids’ face when I held up my arms and shouted “I’m open, throw the ball” – it was a look that suggested they don’t get much of that. I’m glad I have a girl.
Then to the swings. I grabbed Gnat’s legs. “Stop that!” “It’s not me.” “Yes it is.” “It’s an octopus.”
She gave me a look. “Do you see any water? I don’t see any water.”
“It was a land octopus.”
“Oh.” That did it; she considered the existence of such a thing, then moved to another subject. “What if someone was fat and really smart?”
I had no idea where that came from. Ahh-oogha! Body image issues! Proceed with caution; alert the crow's nest. “Then they’d be a fat smart person. People can be skinny and smart and fat and . . . and slow. People come in all sizes, shapes and colors.”
“Except triangles,” she said.
“And octagons, and para – parallel- paralgrams. But sometimes they come in ovals. I’m oval!”
“Nooo,” she shouted, kicking her legs out and swinging as high as she could. “I’m Natalie!”
We washed our hands at the Purell dispenser mounted on the wall. I noted the manufacturer: Gojo. That took me back.
At my father’s service station there was a Go-Jo dispenser in the room off the service bays. You turned the crank and got a handful of rich creamy Go-Jo. (With lanolin!) It was a waterless hand-cleaner that cut through the oils and grease, and it had an aroma that was as much a part of the old garage culture as the tang of gas or the perfume of exhaust. Go-Jo.
I held up my hands in claws: I am Gojo Mojo! I said in my best Mojo Jojo voice. (Which is pretty good, if I may say.) These the clean hands that will rule the world that will be ruled by the hands that are clean. Which are mine!
"DADDY!" She was mortified. A father should not do Mojo Jojo in public.
“Why do you shrink in embarrassment because I speak like the smartest monkey?” I said, still in Mojo voice.
“That girl has a Powerpuff bottle!” she said, pointing to a kid a few yards away. Apparently this strange girl had special Powerpuff Girl Critical skills, and would judge her harshly for her father’s poor imitation. Oh, this was excellent training for the teen years.
“They are my mortal enemies of me, who is I, Gojo Jojo!”
Gojo owns Purell, as it turns out. And I go through gallons of that stuff. The name? Don’t know about the JO, but I’m guessing the GO owned its name to Goldie.
Tonight I did the Diner, because I got an Idea and wanted to get it down; as usual, I had no idea where it was going, but it all rolled out better than I hoped. It’s called “25,” and concerns a similarly named television show. Don’t worry; no spoilers, and no prior knowledge of the show is required. Except for the fact that it takes place in real time over 24 hours as our hero attempts to stop something bad from happening, of course. I really wouldn’t know what constituted a spoiler, in any case.
Because I never watched "24."
See, I bailed after the first episode. As I said in an upcoming Quirk: the first one seemed like just another unrealistic piece of ginned-up suspense. You know what really bugged me? They were using Apple Cinema Display monitors in the supersecret spy room, all running the usual Nonstandard Government GUI. At the time they were the coolest monitors, but still: they had those proprietary plugs; seemed unlikely the CIA would buy them AND the adaptors, which are pricey, just for the looks. But what really annoyed me was the incident where Jack Bauer asked one of the Hip Young Hackers if she could get someone’s computer passwords by running their phone number. “Sure,” she said. And bingo! There they were.
Confidence was not high. We repeat, confidence was not high. So I bailed. And then the show became a great phenom; now I have to turn off the radio when people talk about it. But it was clear that the show was remarkably good, enjoyed by people whose opinion I enjoy – so I got the first season from Netflix, figuring I’d see if I was wrong.
I watched three episodes in a row last night, which is why I went to bed at 2 AM. Couldn’t turn it off. So now I’m hooked, with all the seasons yet to come. Lucky me. And now to write a column and see a few more episodes.
Thanks again. See you tomorrow!